Your brand is your image. Your image is conveyed through the marketing or your brand. That encompasses your logo, your social media, your advertising, your employees, and every other aspect of your business … all the way down to your business cards and the way you answer the phone.
The first step is to brand your work. Even if you are a sole proprietor, your brand involves the unique nature of your business. What separates you from others in your field? How do you answer the question it seems everyone asks nowadays: What makes you different? You need to know.
The second step is to craft a plan to protect your brand. Your image, in large part, is what attracts consumers to your business. Your business, therefore, is on the line. Your reputation is at stake, so every effort should be taken to protect what you represent.
Set standards for the use of your corporate logo. Make sure printers have the right colors (PMS standards usually apply) and place your logo in the proper location. Register the copyright and consider obtaining either trademark (™) or registered (®) marks. Prevent infringement of your logo by copycats or thieves as much as you possibly can. In an earlier blog we covered the basics of protecting your brand.
The biggest concern for companies should be protecting the corporate reputation in social media. You can probably find an article about the topic in virtually any business-related publication since it has come to the forefront lately. One of the best methods for protecting the brand is an old technique – have an online and social media strategy that includes written policies and a corporate protocol manual.
Outline who is authorized to post. Be careful who has administrative capabilities. Clarify content to be posted. Create response time guidelines. Follow accepted protocols for each social media application. The concept for your business using social media should also be clearly defined in order to protect your credibility.
Here’s an example of how your reputation can be damaged in social media: If your goal is to increase sales and every post is a pitch to move a product or service, the strategy is likely to backfire and drive consumers away from you. Once that happens, it will be difficult to get them back. Share relevant information that is of interest to users, especially your target audience. You want to be a thought leader, which means consumers look to you and your company for valuable information to help them make decisions.
In today’s economy, monitoring your social media platform and electronic footprint involves keeping your website current and watching E-mail correspondence, too. These have become as important, if not more so, than keeping tabs on your other advertising strategies. Today’s savvy consumer checks out your web presence right away.
Other concerns when it comes to protecting your image may seem minor, but they have an impact on consumers. Two we’ll cover here are employee attire and visual images.
When they’re at your place of employment or representing your business in the community, your employees convey your corporate image. Consider putting a dress code in place, along with methods for dealing with violations. How would you feel about a sales representative appearing at a trade show for your company wearing a logo emblazoned dress shirt that wasn’t tucked in? Or being drunk? How about a customer service representative swearing and arguing with a customer in a room full of other customers? Proper training can go a long way toward alleviating the potential for these mistakes, which may seem trivial but could have an impact on sales.
How does the outside of your building look to the public … your potential consumer base? If you have a reader board, keep it current. Sweep the sidewalks and shovel the snow. Keep the lobby clean and smelling nice. It’s often the little things that make a difference.
Do your corporate vehicles sport faded or outdated signs? Monitor the quality of your vehicle graphics and replace them when they start – repeat “start” – to look shoddy. You want existing customers to be excited to see one of your vehicles in their neighborhood or community, and you also want potential customers to be enticed by the image they see.
Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand